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Volume 24 No. 156

Facilities Venues

          HOK Sports presented its designs for St. Paul's new
     $130M arena yesterday, "trumpeting the glass-encased, suite-
     filled facility as a symbol of the city's downtown
     turnaround and a place tailor-made for hockey aficionados,"
     according to Curt Brown of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. 
     The 18,632-seat arena will feature a glass exterior, lending
     it a "transparent feeling," and will have a "wide-open" main
     concourse that circles around the rink.  Brown adds that the
     "steep, opera-house-like" upper deck is "reminiscent of"
     Maple Leaf Gardens.  The arena's lower-bowl will include 22
     rows totaling 9,000 seats, all accessible from the main
     concourse.  The facility will feature 74 luxury suites and
     an club-seat level with 3,000 seats (STAR TRIBUNE, 6/18).

          The Hurricanes want "some control over the naming
     rights" in return for paying a $20M cost overrun "that
     threatens timely completion" of the Raleigh downtown arena,
     according to Steve Politi of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. 
     The current arena contract gives control of the naming
     rights to NC State Univ., which will share the arena with
     the Hurricanes.  Other concessions the Hurricanes want
     include: "additional money from concessions, ticket sales,
     advertising and other arena revenue sources;" "greater
     participation in the proceedings of the Centennial
     Authority;" and "control of property around the arena." 
     Local officials "are debating whether they can accept" the
     Hurricanes' offer (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 6/18).

          The Astros signed a 30-year lease yesterday to play in
     the new downtown ballpark starting in 2000, according to
     John Williams of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE.  The signing "ends
     what at times has been tumultuous bargaining by the Astros." 
     Under the lease agreement, the Astros will pay the Houston-
     Harris County Sports Authority $4.6M annual rent and put
     $2.5M each year in a fund for capital improvements.  In
     return, the team will keep all revenues from the ballpark,
     which team Owner Drayton McLane has estimated could mean an
     additional $20M annually.  Williams writes that officials
     "took great caution to strike a tough lease with McLane" and
     negotiated a deal that would "heavily penalize the Astros if
     they leave during the lease" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/18).    

          Reds Owner Marge Schott's "latest appearance" in
     Cincinnati's ballpark debate "has accelerated" MLB's
     scrutiny and "could lead to an extension of her suspension
     in the next few weeks, preventing her from ever running the
     Reds again," according to Geoff Hobson of the CINCINNATI
     ENQUIRER.  A source close to MLB said the league doesn't
     want her involvement putting a deal for a Reds ballpark in
     "jeopardy."  Another lengthy suspension of Schott could run
     through the expiration of the team's general partnership,
     which expires at the end of 2000.  Last week, Schott said
     that she preferred the city's Broadway Common spot for a new
     park, while discussions with the team and Hamilton County
     were centered on the site known as the Wedge.  But a source
     close to the ballpark talks said a deal on the Wedge site
     could come "as soon as next week."  The county is reportedly
     "confident" that Schott would sign the MOU, but it is
     "unsure it can move forward with the project if she doesn't
     sign" it (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/17).  County Commissioner
     Tom Neyer: "I know our attorneys are discussing with (Reds')
     attorneys the nature of the participating signatories.  We
     expect Mrs. Schott to be an enthusiastic participant" (Geoff
     Hobson, CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 6/18).